Affinity Group Inc.’s (AGI) Affinity Events division has added three new RV shows to its roster in 2011 for a total of 25, including management of the RV component of the prestigious Chicago Boat and RV Show Jan. 12-16 at McCormack Place.
”The RV side of that show has really gone down hill,” said Tom Gaither, AGI Events senior vice president. ”We are taking over the RV pavilion side of the Chicago show, which is a new venue for us. They realize we can make a difference.”
Other new shows include the South Carolina RV and Camping Show March 11-13 at the Greenville Convention Center and the New Mexico RV and Travel Show March 24-27 at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Both shows previously had been organized by local dealers.
In 2010, more than 225,000 consumers attended AGI’s 22 RV shows which spanned the nation from coast to coast.
”We had a 24% increase in attendance at all of our shows last year,” said Gaither, a manufacturers’ rep for 15 years for Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., Pilgrim Inc. and Georgie Boy Manufacturing Inc. ”During the recession as customers went shopping on dealers’ lots, they saw a lot fewer floorplans. At our shows, people can look at all the RVs under one tent so they can compare.”
Gaither predicted that with RV sales on the rise coming out of the recession, show attendance in 2011 will be up across the board. ”I think dealers are finding pretty good leads at these shows — sometimes more than they will see on their lots all year,” he said.
The largest shows are the January Chicago Boat and RV Show, which draws in excess of 35,000 people, the Minneapolis/St. Paul RV, Vacation and Camping Show that brings in some 25,000 attendees and two Denver shows, the Colorado RV Adventure Travel Show in January and the Colorado RV, Sports, Boat and Travel Show, where attendance is in excess of 20,000.
Special programs are available for dealers, including posting RVs in a ”Screamin’ Deals” section on the website set up for each individual show. ”As consumers walk around the show site, they can look for the ‘Screamin’ Deals,” Gaither said.
And dealers participating in shows also can post 30 RVs for free on AGI’s rvsearch.com website for up to 30 days. ”I tell dealers to do it after the show so that they can carry the momentum over,” Gaither said. ”It’s another incentive to help the dealers sell.”
Primarily, AGI shows are staged almost weekly — sometimes more than one each week — between January and early April, and then kick in again in August through October at a somewhat reduced pace.
”The shows are mostly divided between spring and fall,” Gaither said. ”We do the shoulder seasons so that dealers can get a boost. We typically don’t do shows in the summer because dealers usually are busy with their lot traffic. The spring shows set up the summer season and the fall shows help dealers clean out inventory to help them get ready for spring.”
Two types of consumers attend AGI shows, Gaither said. ” There are people looking for RVs and people who have RVs who are looking for things to do with them,” he said.
For consumers buying RVs during a show, Affinity Events awards an ”RV Getaway Gift Package” valued at $500 that includes a one-year membership in AGI’s Good Sam Club along with a six-month membership in the Good Sam Club Emergency Road Service; a dry-camping site at AGI’s ”The Rally;” a one-year membership in Camp Club USA; a copy of the Trailer Life RV Parks & Campground Directory; and a subscription to Trailer Life or MotorHome magazines.
”It’s a nice starter package for somebody who just bought an RV,” Gaither offered.
Also for consumers attending a show, AGI presents educational seminars and activities that promote the RV lifestyle, including the Ultimate Camp Cooking Show with comedians Mike Faverman and Pat Mac; travel adventurer John Holod; and Dave Solberg, the ”RV Handyman” who advises consumers on what to look for when buying an RV, all of whom appear occasionally.
”We want to get people to want to use an RV,” Gaither said.
Here’s a rundown of AGI’s 2011 RV show lineup:
- Jan. 7-9 — 22nd Annual North Carolina RV & Camping Show, Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.
- Jan. 12-15 — 21st Annual Colorado RV Adventure Travel Show, Colorado Convention Center, Denver, Colo.
- Jan. 12-16 — 81st Annual Chicago Boat, RV and Outdoors Show, McCormick Place, Chicago, Ill.
- Jan. 14-16 — 25th Annual Washington Camping RV Expo, Dulles Expo Center, Chantilly, Va.
- Jan. 21-23 — 44th Annual New Jersey RV and Camping Show, New Jersey Convention Center, Edison, N.J.
- Jan. 27-30 — Mid-America RV Show, Bartle Hall, Kansas City, Mo.
- Feb. 10-13 — 44th Annual Minneapolis/St. Paul RV, Vacation & Camping Show, Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, Minn.
- Feb 11-13 — 26th Annual Richmond Camping RV Expo, Richmond Raceway Complex, Richmond, Va.
- Feb. 17-20 — 57th Annual Kansas Sports, Boat & Travel Show, Kansas Coliseum, Wichita, Kan.
- Feb. 18-20 — 22nd Annual Las Vegas Sportsmen’s RV & Travel Show, Cashman Center, Las Vegas, Nev.
- Feb. 25-27 — 21st Annual North Carolina RV & Camping Show, Charlotte Convention Center, Charlotte, N.C.
- Feb. 25-27 — 16th Annual Atlantic City RV & Camping Show, Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J.
- March 3-6 — 54th Annual Colorado RV, Sports, Boat & Travel Show, National Western Complex, Denver, Colo.
- March 4-6 — 18th Annual Rhode Island RV & Camping Show, Rhode Island Convention Center, Providence, R.I.
- March 11-13 — 7th Annual Virginia RV Show Hampton Roads Convention Center, Hampton, Va.
- March 11-13 — South Carolina RV & Camping Show, Greenville Convention Center, Greenville, S.C.
- March 18-20 — 22nd Annual North Carolina RV & Camping Show, North Carolina State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C.
- March 24-27 — New Mexico RV & Travel Show, Albuquerque Convention Center, Albuquerque, N.M.
- April 7-10 — 6th Annual Pomona RV & Travel Show, Pomona Fairplex, Pomona, Calif.
- Aug. 12-13 — Colorado RV Liquidation Super Sale, INVESCO Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo.
- Aug. 19-21 — 17th Annual Summer Boat & RV Super Sale, Richmond Raceway Complex, Richmond, Va.
- Sept. 9-11 — 10th Annual North Carolina Fall RV Show & Sale, Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.
- Sept. 23-25 — North Carolina Fall RV Show & Sale, The Park, Charlotte, N.C.
- Sept. 30-Oct. 2 — 14th Annual Fall Rhode Island RV Show, Rhode Island Convention Center, Providence, R.I.
- Oct. 28-30 — 18th Annual Fall Atlantic City RV Show, Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J.